The EZ bar curl is a commonly used biceps exercise variation that offers advantages over a straight barbell due to its curved groovy shape. It allows for a more natural and neutral wrist position thereby alleviating potential wrist strain and discomfort.
You can also use this bar for a multitude of exercises to train the upper body muscles.
In this guide, we’ve explained how to do the EZ bar curl, plus we have some tips, variations, and more.
In This Exercise:
- Target Muscle Group: Biceps Brachii
- Type: Hypertrophy, strength
- Mechanics: Isolation
- Equipment: EZ curl bar
- Difficulty: Beginner
While curls are a biceps-focused exercise, they involve several muscles of the upper arm. Here’s a short description of each one.
The biceps brachii or biceps is the primary muscle group worked during curls. It’s a two-headed muscle on the front of the upper arm that supinates or rotates the forearm so that the palms are facing up, and has a minor role as an elbow flexor.
In addition, because the bicep crosses the shoulder joint it plays a minor role in shoulder flexion.
The brachialis muscle is located underneath the biceps on the outer side of the upper arm. As a result, when well developed, this muscle helps to create more width to the upper arm.
The main function of the brachialis is elbow flexion.
All curls variations work the brachialis to some degree but using a more neutral grip seems to activate it best.
The brachioradialis is a forearm muscle that supinates and pronates the forearm but it’s also an elbow flexor that has a mechanical advantage over the biceps when the forearm is pronated/palms facing down.
How To Do The EZ Bar Curl
While the EZ bar curl is a relatively simple-to-perform exercise, here are step-by-step instructions to ensure you do it correctly.
- Grip the EZ curl bar with hands at a comfortable angle and at the desired hand width (e.g, narrow, medium, or wide).
- Stand straight with shoulders neutral or pulled back and keep arms by your sides.
- Curl the bar up and squeeze your biceps, then lower the bar under control but keep a bend in your elbow to maintain tension on your biceps.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Here’s a video example…
EZ curl bar tips
- You can use a narrow, medium, or wide grip to emphasize a specific part of the biceps or to increase the difficulty of the exercise.
- A narrow grip will emphasize the outer head and a wide grip will emphasize the inner head.
- Avoid bringing the elbows too far forward although you can move them a little bit forward as it may help to get a better contraction in the biceps.
- Choose a weight that you can curl comfortably without needing to rock back, but it should be heavier enough to cause a good effort during each set.
- Cheat reps can be effective for overloading the muscles and causing a greater stimulus but this technique, should, ideally, only be done by more experienced exercisers.
- Do not move the elbows too far forward and rest at the top of the curl as this may relieve tension from the biceps.
- We recommend to not lock out your elbows during the negative portion of the exercise to keep tension on your biceps.
While the basic EZ bar curl is an excellent biceps-building exercise, we recommend mixing things up and using different movements for maximum results and to prevent exercise monotony.
Here are a few variations that we recommend.
Cable EZ bar curl
The advantage of utilizing cables especially for biceps curls is that even if you are tempted to rest at the top, the cable is always puling against your limbs, and therefore, keeping tension on the muscles at all times.
It’s also easier to use certain training methods such as drop sets where you perform a number of reps, drop the weight and continue without rest in between.
EZ bar reverse curl
The EZ bar reverse curl will allow you to really maximize brachioradialis activation and build muscle on the knuckle side of the forearms. You won’t be able to use as much weight but it’s a very good variation because you can use a more natural grip compared to if you used a straight bar.
EZ bar preacher curl
The EZ bar preacher curl is popular because it feels good and allows you to get a nice biceps pump. But it also allows for a more pronounced stretch on the lower bicep area and may offer a much-needed stimulus for biceps growth.
Related article: The Best Short Head Biceps Exercises For Bigger Upper Arms
How To Incorporate The EZ Bar Curl Into Your Training Routine
EZ bar curls are a great alternative to straight bar curls but they’re also great for changing up your routine and possibly emphasizing different parts of the biceps.
Therefore, you can use them to replace any barbell variation and still benefit from being able to use a maximum amount of weight to really overload the biceps.
There are fixed and plate-loaded EZ bars as well but whichever you use will depend on your goals and level of experience, as you can typically load more weight using the plate-loaded bar.
While this can vary based on several factors, anywhere from 2-4 sets is recommended to ensure the biceps are properly stimulated. As for reps, well, you should use a variety of anywhere from 4-20+ reps unless you are aiming for a specific goal.
The EZ bar curl is an exercise that you can never go wrong with. It’s the perfect biceps movement for those with wrists issues and anyone really, because it allows you to use a more natural wrist position.
But you don’t have to limit yourself to just doing this exercise because there are many variations that work just as well.